The Excremental Ethics of Samuel R. Delany


Bathrooms speak to me now. This thrice daily flushing, this thrice daily forgetting, is a modern mantra. This song of stream, this drum of dung, and then the whirlpool whip that marks the moment before evacuation from the (water) closet. It is here that we leave our proof of disintegration and return cleansed to labor, to the main rooms of the home, or to the street. Underneath us, as we walk purely forth, our excrement travels, too. Through pipes, it becomes the rivers of an underworld rushing to collection centers for treatment for its filth. Yet, this process fails; no matter how many chemicals we use to destroy this stink from our bodies, something remains. It is not possible to rid ourselves of our excess. As environmentalist and architect Sim Van der Ryn writes,

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